Restaurant Design and Development, and Concept Development

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Better Burrito Project

it is interesting to see the burrito go through it’s next stage of evolution. First there were one off Mexican burrito stores, be it in the Mission District of San Francisco or the outskirts of Dallas, Houston, Austin, and in all the states between. The there was Chipotle, upscaling the burrito/taco concept, serving very flavorful food and creating the fast casual restaurant category. This was copied by many, but none has been able to even duplicate, much less improve on Chipotle.

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Now there is a whole new approach to burritos and tacos, some concepts taking it back to be more authentic, others fusioning it with other cuisines, such as the Korean kimchi tacos. This movement is creating whole new experiences for the customers.

Working on a better burrito concept, and doing my homework in Austin TX, searched out the most lauded burrito concept. in Town: “Cabos Bob’s”, two locations.

Cabos Bob’s branding, lifestyle and storyline are great. Story based on surfers looking for waves in Cabos (Baja California” and Bob, the old surfer telling the young ones “be patient, the waves will come”, which they always did,and with time on their hands, the beach taco stands were he place to hangout, eat and drink.

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The decor and ambiance is good, a bit “faux authentic” but true to the brand. The serveline queue very bbq Texan style, back and forth separated by crates of soda and beer. Serve time and throughput is limited, mainly due to the making of the tortillas for each order.  Takes about one minutes to make one order of totrillas, and they can run two orders concurrently, for a max. throughput of 20 per hour. This works in the suburban environments and locations that have steaddy traffic all day with lunch and dinner bump ups.. Wouldn’t work in urban downtown locations where 80% of the business is done during the two hours of lunch, and weekends are dead.

Making their tortillas is a great, really makes a difference (this is Chipotle’s weakest point). Problem it takes so long, and due to the method they use (trying to be authentic) they have to add a second extraction hood. They use a round rotating “plancha” once the tortillas are pressed,authentic, but could be an electric heated round plate and they would get the same result.

The meat and bean selection is good, and as it is in Texas, they have a brisket on the menu. Meats are finish grilled on two Green Egg charcoal bbq, which give it great flavor, but requires hgher skills, which were lacking in the store I visited. Chicken had no char and little charcoal grill taste. Green Eggs are great, don’t know if it is the best for this concept (not very authentic, but very original).

The meats didn’t have much flavor, Chipotle has them beat in that part. Beans OK, sides and topping selection OK, sauces without much flavor, and they offered different heat/spice level, but the hot one was mild and from there to less….

Fish taco offering is great, core part of the Cabo concept, difficult to execute well. Great selection and idea, not very good execution….

The other concept that is mentioned for the better burrito is Freebird, but my experience has not been that positive, food more flavor, but serve model doesn’t work. Stores big and expensive to build, and also doesn’t work in busy urban environment.

The continuing quest of the Better Burrito Project…

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